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Philip Pullman Author Study
Children's and Young Adult Book Reviews

"Stories are the most important thing in the world. Without stories, we wouldn't be human beings at all."


Philip Pullman


Biographical Information


About His Life

*      Philip Pullman was born in Norwich, England on October 19, 1946. 

*      Both his father (who died when he was young) and step-father were in the Royal Air Force, and thus he traveled a great deal and lived in England, Zimbabwe, and Australia before his family settled in North Wales. 

*      His grandfather was very influential in his life, and influenced his desire to be a storyteller.

*      When they were young he would tell his brother stories to amuse him, but mostly for his own sake—he loved telling stories out loud and feels that it was his preparation for becoming a writer.

*      He read everything he could get his hands on when he was young, from classic literature to horror novels.  His favorite book as a child was The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay. 

*      He discovered Batman and Superman comics, and fell in love with them.  Comics were quite influential for him. He says in  a self written memoir “When one day my stepfather brought me Superman comic, it changed my life” (Pullman, n.d.).

*      Philip attended Oxford University in Oxford, England where he studied English. 

*      He was the first member of his family to attend University.

*      After graduating, he worked some odd jobs including one in a man’s clothing shop and in a library.

*      He got married to a teacher and decided to become one himself.

*      He taught at various Oxford Middle Schools, and then at Westminster College in 1986, where he stayed for eight years.

*      He is still married and has two sons. 

*      He writes 3 pages a day, regardless of whether he feels has more or less than that to write.  If he has more than three pages of material in his head, he stops himself and it’s easier to write the next day! 


About His Books

*      Philip Pullman has a varied body of work ranging from children’s picture books to young adult books that include short novels which he calls “fairy tales” to historical thriller and mythological journeys.

*      One of his children’s books, Clockwork, was turned into a children’s opera and performed in England.

*      The His Dark Materials trilogy of The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass is his most famous.  It is a young adult fantasy trilogy—although Pullman has said it isn’t fantasy but “stark realism”.

*      The Golden Compass, the first book in the trilogy, was published first in England as Northern Lights.  A publisher’s error renamed it The Golden Compass and it was too late to change it, so it became the American title.

*      The Golden Compass won the 1996 Carnegie Medal, which is analogous to the Newberry Award in the U.S. 

*      The Amber Spyglass won the 2001 Whitbread Award for Best Book of the Year.  This is a very prestigious prize handed out in England, and this was the first children’s title to ever win Book of the Year. 

*      His Dark Materials has been turned into a very successful stage play in London, and New Line Cinema has a movie version—most likely a trilogy as well—in the works. 


The Golden Compass
The Subtle Knife
The Amber Spyglass



Andronik, Catherine M.   2001.  Philip Pullman: His wonderful materials.  Book Report

20,  no.3 (Nov/Dec): 40-45.  (accessed

June 12, 2004).


Entertainment Weekly.  2002. IT: Kid’s best nightmare.  June 28.  (accessed June 12, 2004).


Odean, Kathleen.  2000.  The story master.  School Library Journal 46, no.10 (October):



Pepper, Tara.  2004.  Not just for children.  Newsweek (Pacific Edition), February.  (accessed June 12, 2004).


Pullman, Phillip.  “About the author.”  Philip  (accessed June 15, 2004).


Pullman, Philip.  “Author Q and A.”  Random House.

            (accessed June 24, 2004).


Pullman, Philip.  “I have a feeling this all belongs to me.”  Philip 


            June 24, 2004). 


Pullman, Philip.  2004.  The very best audience.  Horn Book Magazine, May/ June. 

   (accessed June 12, 2004).


Weich, Dave.  2003.  “Author interviews: Philip Pullman, Tamora Pierce, and

Christopher Paolini talk fantasy fiction.”  (accessed June 30, 2004).